Islington charities suffer crippling £6.8 million cuts while hitting the boroughs vulnerable

File photo dated 18/09/12 of money as the Treasury would save over £2 billion a year if worker

File photo dated 18/09/12 of money as the Treasury would save over £2 billion a year if workers were paid the Living Wage because of higher income tax payments and lower spending on benefits, a new study has suggested. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Some of Islington’s most vulnerable people are being hit by nearly £7 million-worth of cuts.

Figures obtained by the Gazette reveal spending on charities has been slashed by £6.8 million – 17.5 per cent – over the last three years.

A whole raft of organisations helping sufferers of domestic violence, the elderly and disabled children have seen the axe wielded at their budgets.

The figures revealing £32,075,866 was spent on charities last year (2012/13) compared to £38,921,402 in 2010/11.

Islington Council blames the coalition Government for the cuts, but some charities claim the council cannot wash its hands of the reductions and should have ring fenced certain areas of spending.

Solace Women’s Aid – an Islington domestic violence charity which saw about 1,000 women last year – has seen its budget cut by about a third in three years, from £681,262 in 2010/11 to £440,359 in 2012/13.

Crime figures show domestic-related crimes shot up from 1,356 to 1,670 – more than four a day – last year (2012/13), a rise of 23.2 per cent from the year before.

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Mary Mason, chief executive of the Holloway-based Solace charity, said: “I would have liked to have seen Islington Council give us a bit of priority and ring fence the issue of domestic violence and sexual violence.

“The cut of more than £200,000 is huge. The decisions made could have been made in a different way.

“I understand you have to make cuts, but I also think domestic and sexual violence could be kept out of them.

“We are not able to provide the same level of service we would want to provide for anybody which we are not happy about.

“We are increasingly only dealing with those at the highest level which means some of the prevention isn’t happening when we would like it too.

“It means waiting lists are longer and we don’t get to see people for a long as we might want to.”

Peter Leigh, general manager at Archway-based Islington Music Forum, also known as Key Changes, which works with young people with mental health problems by allowing them to DJ and produce urban music, said charities are desperately trying to find funding from other avenues.

He said: “The truth is people’s lives depend on our services. That’s what motivates us. It makes us want to fund raise harder.”

Also among the cutbacks are tens of thousands in reductions for youth groups helping to steer people away from crime and drugs, learning disability charities and ethnic integration organisations.

Richard Watts, executive member for finance and performance, said: “Given the Government has cut 40 per cent of Islington’s income we have tried to protect the voluntary sector as much as we can and that’s why their funding has gone down by less than the total cuts to the council.

“It’s important we get the best value for money for taxpayers for the services we provide and we are asking people to be more efficient.”

Just £3.5million of the town hall’s charity pot is ring-fenced and tends to go to smaller organiasations. All the rest has to be bid for on a case-by-case basis.